Madeleine Peyroux – Secular Hymns

Madeleine Peyroux "Secular Hymns"Madeleine Peyroux recorded her latest country/folk/jazz/blues album in a church in Great Milton, Oxfordshire or in the middle of nowhere. Her partners are Jon Herrington on guitar and Barak Mori on bass. And the repertoire is a potpourri of different styles and genres we’ve become familliar with: Songs by Tom Waits (“Tango Till They’re Sore”), Linton Kwesi¬†Johnson, Townes van Zandt, or Allen Toussaint.

The mood is typically downtempo and gloomy except for the sensationally cool version of “Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On)” which in its subtlety and simplicity even tops the groovy Lou Donaldson interpretation. Great choice! The bluesy country (or countryesque blues) of “If The Sea Was Whiskey” (Leonard Caston/Willie Dixon) is a welcome change of pace and style.

The album sprays a lot of warmth and intimacy, like on the beautiful “Hard Times Again No More” by Stephen Foster or the blues-drenched “Hello Babe” by Kansas Joe McCoy and Lil Green. The biggest surprise here is the addition of a track by reggae guru Linton Kwesi Johnson (“More Time” from 1998). I had almost forgotton Johnson – even though his “Bass Culture” album from 1980 is a true masterpiece (and one of the very very few reggae album I’d recommend).

After a lackluster “Shout Sister Shout”, Madeleine winds up her new opus (which is only 33 minutes long but so what?) smoothly with the traditional “Trampin'”. And her voice is still a mystery. Madeleine is on tour in Europe in November and plays Athens, London, Birmingham, Madrid, Barcelona, Cartagena, Paris, Saffron Waldon, Amsterdam, and Monaco.

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